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He is Robert Stanford Brown, 6'5", 280 pounds, B.S., Nebraska, M.E.A., Pennsylvania, O.T., Oakland. According to Raider teammate Ron Mix, offensive tackle is the most thankless position in all of sport. It is also one of the hardest to play. Bob Brown (right) plays it so well he has been All-Pro five times. Yet his heroics go unnoticed. Only when he fails—when the defensive end beats him and mashes the quarterback—does he get any attention. This steams Brown and his colleagues, as does the assumption that they are dumb brutes. In fact, Mix is a lawyer, Grady Alderman of the Vikings a CPA and Bob Reynolds of the Cards and John Brown of the Steelers are working on their master's. But the Boomer is unique. Says Mix, "Everything about him is bigger than life—his size, his talent, his intelligence, his sensitivity. He is the Boomer, he is one of a kind."

As Oakland end and guard get set for pass rush, Brown drops back to pick up his man. Below he lunges at Bronco Paul Smith to force him wide and out of the play. At right K.C.'s Marv Upshaw is coming directly at Brown—just where he wants him.

Steaming in the cool night air while the defense takes over, Brown resembles the great Othello, although his self-doubts make him more akin to Hamlet. His Nos. 1 and 1A fans are wife Ceci and Robert Stanford Brown II.

From the left, Brown puts on his most menacing glower before and after a play. Brown has weapons physical as well as psychological—his bound fists. "My philosophy is not to accept the blows but to deliver them," he says. "There are some choice areas like the spleen, when I can get at it." Below, having blocked a slap, he counters with a ringing punch of his own.

Brown is helped off field after injuring a knee against Chiefs. A month after surgery he was back. "A small matter of pain," he said.